Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Black And White World

Pretty good episode of Game Of Thrones on Sunday, "The House Of Black And White."  The producers promised we'd be getting new mixes of characters and they're starting to deliver.

We start with Arya gliding in Braavos.  Too bad Stannis already left or we'd have an interesting intersection.  She's taken straight to the House Of Black And White, so that solves that mystery.  Apparently everyone in Braavos knows this place and also knows they don't mess around, which is why Arya gets curbside service. But once she knocks on the door and shows the coin, the guy who answers doesn't let her in.  So she hangs around for at least a day, maybe longer, repeating her prayer (which has gotten a lot shorter--her enemies have been dropping like flies without her).  Eventually, she tosses her fancy coin and hits the road. Hey, Arya gotta eat.

Speaking of which, Brienne and Pod are at some sort of tavern, and there's Littleginer and Sansa across the way. After last week's near miss, it's so satisfying that they notice her,  Brienne doesn't think it'll go well and has Pod get the horses ready. She approaches the heavily guarded two and tries to explain that she's vowed to protect Sansa.  Baelish has heard of her and isn't impressed--she was sworn to protect Renly and Catelyn and both died.  But what does Sansa think?  She wants a word alone (to tell her Ayra is alive as well?) but Sansa wants nothing to do with her--she saw her at the bow to Joffrey at the Purple Wedding. Pretty funny, actually.  When Brienne set out to find the Stark girls, she had all of Westeros (Essos, too) to find them, yet managed to do it.  And both turned her down.

The heat is on and Brienne and Pod escape.  They're chased by Littlefinger's men, and for all we know Pod will die--it's not like he's a major character.  But, leaving behind a few corpses, they survive.  Pod makes a good point: the Stark girls have turned you down, doesn't that release you from your vow?  For the first time we'd see Brienne unbound. But all she's ever wanted to do was swear fealty to someone important, so she's going to be following Sansa and Petyr. Good, that'll add some spice to their story.

At King's Landing, Cersei fears for Myrcella in Dorne, now that Oberyn is dead.  Jaime is worried, too, and decides to do something about it.  Once again, good. Jaime and Cersei were getting to be a dreary couple, so getting a change of scenery might make him fun again.  But he needs a hand, so he invites (forces) Bronn to come along.  Double good--he's been out of action for too long as well.

And we cut to Dorne, as far south as Westeros goes.  We've heard jokes about it since season one, but we're finally here.  One of Oberyn's Sand Snakes are pissed about his death, but the calmer head of Prince Doran, prevails--for now anyway.  Myrcella is safe at the Water Gardens, but for how long?

In Meereen, the Unsullied patrol the streets, searching for Sons Of The Harpy.  But they're too obvious.  Daario is much better at finding these terrorists, and sure enough, he finds one hiding.  He's brought before Dany and her counselors.  Most want to kill him, but Barristan wants a fair trial.  (They've got due process in Westeros?)  Once alone with Dany, he actually makes a pretty good speech about her "mad" father, and how his ways didn't work.  But hey, Dany, this is Meereen--do the same rules apply?

In a covered wagon, we've got Varys and Tyrion on the way to Volantis which is on the way to Meereen.  Varys has come a long way, but he does seem to care about the realm. (Didn't help Ned Stark very much.).  The Imp is still filled with regrets, while the Spider sees his talent and thinks he can help make things work.

Via a comic cut, we see the head of yet another dwarf being dropped in front of Cersei--she is willing to kill every dwarf until she gets the right one, so Tyrion better hide.  Then she goes to a meeting of the small council and, denying she wants any power but is merely aiding Tommen, makes it clear she's in charge.  She deals with the dopey Tyrell guy by giving him so many titles that he couldn't serve as hand, and she deals more harshly with her Lannister uncle. Pycelle doesn't dare do much, even when she promote the creepy Qyburn. Cersei can use some wise heads, but she'd rather have dwarf heads. Doesn't bode well.

Now we're at the Wall.  Shireen is teaching Gilly to read--see, this is the sort of mix we never would have guessed would happen.  They talk about her disease, which Gilly has seen kill people--wonder if that information will matter in future episodes?  Then Queen Baratheon comes in and shoos Gilly (and Samwell) away--don't get too close to these people.  No, better to stick with the Red Woman.

Meanwhile, Snow is meeting with Stannis. He's not thrilled about showing Mance mercy.  The real trouble is the Free Folk will never follow Stannis, only one of their own. But Stannis has a plan, and not a bad one. He's got the power to turn Snow in Stark--he can destroy Bolton and become the true King of the North, who'd be followed by the people.

Snow has to think about it.  Really?  Isn't this everything he's always dreamed about? I don't care if he took the black, don't you want to be able to spend the winter in Dorne?  Before Snow can even turn it down, though, the election for Lord Commander (998th--really?  How many thousands of years have they been there?) takes place. Samwell makes a stirring speech for his surprise nomination (knocking Janos Slynt along the way, which is always worth it), and the tie is broken by Maester Aemon for Snow.  Okay, as long as you're stuck there, might as well be in charge.  Though it's pretty clear by this point that George R. R. Martin, and probably Weiss and Benioff, have bigger plans for him.

Back at Braavos, Arya walks the streets. She's tough, but is she--and Needle--tough enough.  We don't need to find out, since the guy from the House Of Black And White walks by and the street toughs poop their pants.  The real problem is Arya has no mentor.  By my count, not counting her dad, she's had five major mentors along the way, and each one made for great scenes.  She follows the guy back to the House. He pulls of his face and--voila!--he's Jaqen H'ghar.  And ten million fans rejoice.  They walk into the House, and I guess her faceless training has begun.

This could almost be the end of the show, but Dany has a problem to clean up.  One of the former slaves and killed the prisoner.  Good riddance, a lot of people would say, but he went against the direct commands of Mhysa.  They take him out to the public square and, very much against the public will, execute him.  Hey Dany, who do you think you are?  Joffrey?  That night, walking out on her balcony, who should appear but her long lost Drogon (her favorite child, no matter what she tells the other dragons).  Did he hear she's gotten tough?  Then he flies away, but he's around, and that's a big deal.  Maybe it's time to stop ruling Meereen and sail to Westeros already.

And with that we're done.  Not too many characters left out.  None of the Bolton/Reek stuff, but that's usually unpleasant anyway.  And we've set up what Brienne will be doing (after an existential crisis that lasted about two seconds), where Varys and Tyrion are going, who'll be training Arya and where Jaime is heading and quite a few other plans.  We're still not so sure what Littlefinger plans, but if he's heading up North with former Winterfellian Sansa, things might be heating up, since he might meet with the Boltons, Snow and Stannis.


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